3 Ways to Protect Yourself When Using a Rental Car After an Accident

Published on Feb 20, 2024 at 8:24 pm in Car Accidents.

Many individuals rent cars when going out of town on vacation or when flying or taking another mode of transportation into our city, and they’re looking for a vehicle to travel around Lexington, KY, and the surrounding area.

However, others find themselves needing to rent a car out of necessity when their own vehicle is in the shop being repaired. If you find yourself needing to temporarily replace your set of wheels in a situation like the latter, we’ll share three ways to protect yourself when using a rental car after an accident aimed at minimizing the chances of you sustaining any other problems you have to deal with.

Take the Insurance Offered by the Rental Company

When offered insurance, it’s not uncommon for motorists to waiver back and forth about whether to accept it. You might even think you don’t have an option if your insurer has made arrangements for you to get a rental on your behalf.

Depending on the arrangement with the rental company or the staff member’s experience in handling such issues, they might not even offer or inquire if you want coverage.

Why might this occur?

Well, because insurance companies often pay for rentals via vouchers, and given how the fee is covered, they might not think to ask about insurance. While you might be much more inclined in the immediate aftermath of another accident with your own vehicle to inquire about insurance, in case you’re not, make sure to do so.

Insurance companies sometimes will cover their insured’s use of a rental car if something happens minus a $1,000 deductible, but that’s not always the case. You’ll certainly want to check your policy documents or call your insurer to verify.

If you’re unclear about whether they do or you’re certain they don’t, it’s strongly recommended that you secure coverage from the rental company or at least purchase insurance from a third-party provider that insures motorists renting cars.

While that insurance can be quite expensive, if you reject it, they’ll make you sign a collision damage waiver, making you liable for any destruction, which, depending on the severity of the crash, could be significant, including the full cost of the vehicle.

Carefully Inspect the Vehicle You’re Renting Before Driving It Off the Lot

If you’re already on the hook for potential property damage after a recent accident, it’s unlikely that you want to be responsible for covering two vehicles’ repairs should you become involved in a wreck in the rental.

One of the best ways of minimizing your personal liability for property damage, in addition to securing insurance, is to be very present when inspecting the vehicle before finalizing the rental.

The representative you’re working with should request that you go out to the vehicle, inspect it, and mark off any problems you notice on a sheet of paper featuring the diagram of a vehicle. It’s unlikely that they’ll provide much more guidance than that to direct you. It’s important that you make note of issues you notice, including:

  • Exterior concerns: Scratches, dings, dents, paint issues, cracked windows, damaged or missing side mirrors, whether headlights and brake lights work, and if there are any missing trim or vehicle components (i.e., a gas cap, spare tire, etc.)
  • Interior concerns: Air bags that appear to have been tampered with, a missing rear-view mirror, damaged or non-working side mirror controllers, whether the horn and turn signals work, if there’s a residual smell of smoke inside the vehicle (from someone lighting up a cigarette), seats appear to be correctly functioning and whether they have any stains or tears.

While we’re sure the different aspects of the vehicle to check during this walkaround inspection aren’t comprehensive, it hopefully gives you a better idea of why you might want to not only check for physical flaws it has inside and out that you could be held liable for, but situations that could endanger your safety, too.

And, if you notice any cosmetic issues, while you’ll certainly want to document them, of course, if you note potential operational or safety ones, you may want to not only notify the representative about them but also request an alternate car.

Stick Around When Returning the Rental Until It’s Fully Checked Back In

Oftentimes, renters cut it quite close to the deadline when it’s due back, or they have to be somewhere else to return the car. If the representative at the rental company is busy, it might take them a while to ultimately walk outside and assess the condition of the vehicle.

As you might imagine, not only is it possible for someone with ill intentions to incorrectly report a returned automobile’s condition as far worse than it is, but there’s a lot that can happen to an unattended rental while it’s awaiting its review.

In either of the scenarios above, it’s possible, especially if you don’t have insurance, to be held liable for damages made up or caused by others (that you had nothing to do with). This is why you must give yourself ample time to see the check-in process through when returning a rental car.

You’ll want to make sure you give the representative enough time to perform their own walkaround inspection and that they close out your “tab,” which usually ends in them providing you with a final receipt before you leave the store or premises.

This will minimize the chances of you incurring “surprise” charges on the card you had on file after you returned it, thinking all was well.

Where To Get Advice Following a Car Crash

While, in an ideal world, no one would have to worry about getting involved in an auto accident, life happens. And when these collisions occur, they often lead to far more than property damage but severe injuries as well.

Here at Peterson Law Office, we sincerely hope that the three tips we provided above to protect yourself when using a rental car after an accident are helpful to you as you wait for your vehicle to be repaired.

If you additionally need assistance in navigating the insurance claims process to recover compensation for injuries caused by another motorist, we’d be happy to be of assistance to you. Contact our law firm for a free initial consultation with a Lexington car accident lawyer now.

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